Afton is a mountain bikers course, a lot of technical climbing, technical downhills, switchbacks, with rocks an rocks strewn about everywhere. The course got hammered with rain, so there was plenty of mud to make it a bit more difficult. It demands your full attention, you cannot ride over your head. The course being soggy, like it was, is a blessing and a curse. The course is not always easy to make a pass. Bright sunshine filled day, light breeze to keep things cool. It was a mountain bikers dream!! I raced a geared bike, on the Sport class course, which is roughly half the trails, routed around some of the major climbs. We staged for start at 10:50am. I marked two jerseys (53x11 coffee, red & Deustchland, yellow) in the leader call up. I know I can race these guys. I line up in the back of the pack. The group starts, the lead group starts pulling away to the first bridge loop (rubber treaded) climb. That's where I wanted to be, with that group and pinned it to catch them passing one of the jerseys. Got to the first climb on the back of the bunch and slipped. This pretty much unhitched everyone behind me. We were routed up the next climb, Shady Lane, early, then into the switchbacks, where mud, rocks, roots, and loose soil were eating riders up.There's a climb that is 4 rock shelves, sandwiched between layers of earth, Pirate's Cove?? I get to the very top where there were three or four racers "camped out" right there in the technical section. I made the comment, "you guys need to move out of there." They were in a spot, that was no longer technical, but just kinda in the way. In my opinion if they were racing they should have been moving. I get to the last climb, "manhandler" where we were routed to just the upper third of the climb. My red jersey (53x11 coffee) passes me, (I never saw the Deustchland jersey till the finish). It's a fun, fast downhill to the start / finish. By fun, I mean not Lime Creek. I catch up with the Red jersey before the slalom near the East Chalet, quickly got stuck behind a slower racer. Catch Red again on the rubber tread bridge climb. Me and the red jersey swapped places up Shady Lane, through the switchbacks, till we came to a transition through the golf course to the Grand Canyon. We came up to a slower racer and knew I wasn't going to follow either of them into the Grand Canyon. Made a pass and didn't announce it. Red jersey passed at the same time, and started pushing me, with his whole body, elbow and shoulder, out into the golf course, past the course markers. Here we are, racing three wide for a corner that will eventually funnel down into single-track. The slow guy slowed, I slammed on my brakes, shot to the inside of the right hand switchback and we were now battling shoulder to shoulder, around the corner, which is not a good thing. He ended up taking the "alternate" route, where people had been overcooking the corner all day. I let him have the position. I got my position back and left him for good after we started the mountain crossing and into Pirate's Cove. Ran into a slower racer who bobbled on the steep part of Pirate's. This is where racer X passed me and ran over the downed racer's wheel to do it!! So now, I'm chasing racer X. We're flying down the mountain cross trail, mud and rocks flying up and around. He enters the manhandler and got about a hundred yards up and I had to pin it to catch him at the top. I was within six bike lengths, but never able to make a move before the downhill. Finish was pleasing. Fourth in age group 30-39. Seventeenth in overall Sport class. The posted results at the race said fifteenth. Internet results are final so I go with seventeenth. :D
Great Race!! Next, Mankato, Bluff rider's charge.